When Most Talented Isn't Enough
In my first summer blog (sorry, my first blog ever), I talked about some of the things the Trail Blazers needed to address this off-season. The most obvious situation, and most likely to be filled first, are the GM and head coaching jobs. Then I talked about the on the court situations that needed to be looked at, one of them being the center position, and that REALLY got me thinking about something that rarely gets discussed in pro sports, or in any part of our daily lives anymore. The difference between being the “BEST” at something, and being the “MOST TALENTED” at something.
If you were to gather a group of NBA experts together and ask them who the “BEST” centers in the NBA are, to a man, I believe each of them would say Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum. They would seem to be the most logical choices right? But, while I could/would never argue they are the “MOST TALENTED” centers in the NBA, I would argue whether they are the “BEST” centers in the league.
When I think of the “BEST” centers in the league, I think of the guys that are best suited to help their teams when games, and I don’t think either of these two guys are the “BEST” at that. So with that criteria, give me Tyson Chandler (defensive player of the year), or Kendrick Perkins! Both are hard-nosed defenders, who will set screens, protect the paint, and bump cutters, all while rebounding the ball and making the occasional lay-up.
Now, neither of them will ever put up the numbers the first two guys will, but they are both aware of that, and accept it! On a down year, one or both MAY make an all-star team, but if they don’t, that’s ok. They don’t do it for the fame, they do it for the game, for the passion, for the WIN. Dwight Howard is the best player on his team, a guy that demands the ball, BUT, he’s not willing to sacrifice his summer enough to develop a decent free throw shot, so down the stretch of close games, he can be easily be rendered ineffective.
Andrew Bynum has let his ego get so out of sorts; he is willing to challenge his coach’s authority by hoisting up UGLY 3 pointers, just because he feels he can? Those two things seem small, but in the context of winning basketball, they are huge!
How can Dwight Howard demand excellence of his teammates, when he doesn’t demand it of himself? How can Andrew Bynum yell at his teammates when they blow a defensive assignment, something that takes an incredible sense of discipline, when he can’t show enough discipline to not take a shot he knows he can't make? Short answer, they can’t!
Now I know a lot of people reading this will think I’m crazy, and maybe I am? But Tyson Chandler has a ring and so does Kendrick Perkins. And while it’s true that Bynum does as well, it can be argued that he was more like Perkins and Chandler at that time, and he accepted his role, the role that centers must play within the design of todays NBA. But until Dwight Howard accepts that centers don’t win championships without sacrifice, it’s hard for me to call him the “BEST” center in the league, but I can’t argue with whether or not he’s the “MOST TALENTED”, there’s no questioning that.